How Parenting Helps Me Grow

There is nothing like parenting to hold that mirror up to a grown person’s face (to my face, to your face…) and show us where we get to grow. Apparently I get to grow in patience and acceptance because these two keep showing up in my dang mirror. They were there yesterday, staring out at me. I recognized them right away.

My eight year old walked into the living room and saw it first. Instead of screaming at the horror she alone was witnessing (which, thinking back to being eight, could have been a fun thing to do) she ran to find me in the kitchen and broke it to me gently.

With big eyes and a shocked look on her face she said, “Mom, you are NOT going to like this.” She paused for dramatic effect. I froze and braced myself for impact.

“You are really going to freak out.”

Grateful for the cue, I realized in that moment that I already was freaking out. A quiet, still sort of freaking out, but a freak-out just the same. I took a deep breath, unglued my feet from where I’d been standing and prepared myself for the worst. Quickly, I walked into the next room wondering what could have happened in the last five minutes.

Who was I kidding. Anything could have happened. It had been far too quiet since I’d broken away to wash some dishes. My older two kids had been doing homework and my two year old twins had been playing on the floor beside them.

I made it to the dining room and at first glance, the scene wasn’t bad at all. There was no blood, no broken glass and no obvious harm had come to any of my children or our pets.

It was the second glance that got me. As I rounded the corner from the dining room into our family room, I saw it. Big green circles were making their way across our maybe five month-old tan leather couch. And there was my son, caught green-handed.

It’s times like these where conscious parenting earns it’s name. When you feel like reacting one way, but by the grace of some force greater than yourself, you respond in another.

I caught my breath and Colin’s hand mid-circle, saying firmly, “All done.” I said it over and over until I saw on his face he understood, Mom was not into graffiti couch art. I worked to stay present both to how I was feeling AND to the way I was responding. And in that moment, I wondered, had I been a parent who believed in spanking as an act of discipline, would I have given my son a quick swat on the back side and thought it a teaching moment? Probably. Okay, I thought, then how would I grow? How would I get to own my anger and frustration in challenging parenting moments such as this? Where would patience and acceptance stare out at me from?

I’ve come to think of conscious parenting as equal parts parenting from a place of love AND becoming aware of the times when I parent from not-love… places like fear, judgement and anger. Those times are just as powerful and maybe just as frequent. They are not failures. They are opportunities for me to practice forgiveness, asking for it and offering it to myself.
Keeping it together as a parent when you feel like freaking out (say, like, when your two year turns into Keith Haring at the expense of your new couch) is no small task. For me it’s a lot like yoga. It involves breathing (lots of it— lots and lots of it) and that I find and maintain my center in exactly those moments I want to jump over the edge.

Parent or not, most human beings would agree, mindful living is a challenge and takes practice. And here’s the good news for us parents (or not so good news, depending on how you look at it) by definition, being a parent means we are going to GET a lot of practice. It’s part of the job description. Being a parent help make our lives a-parent to us. Every day. The laundry, the fighting, the whining, getting out the door in the morning without having a heart- attack or biting someone’s head -off, AND all the magical moments that fall in between. It’s in those sweet moments where your five year old comes down from snuggling with dad and announces “Snuggies are what life is all about.” Or when your three year old says, “Mom, snow is quiet.” We are teaching our children, and they are teaching us.

Parenting TRULY is a spiritual path. It’s pure bliss AND a chance to grow all wrapped into one.
We all parent less than consciously, far away from the present moment. We’re upset, worried about what might happen (the future) or angry about what already did (the past). We might yell a choice four letter word, or maybe just “No!”. It’s more likely we’d yell “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” because, for some strange reason, we adults think the word “no” is only heard when repeated loudly, seven times or more.

I get it. I get being mad. I get feeling frustrated. But back to the idea of spanking as discipline, to hit a young child in the name of teaching, this notion strikes me as both misdirected and ineffective.

Spanking denies both parent and child the opportunity to learn and grow from whatever trigger life has just delivered. And as life is persistent in it’s desire to help us grow, it’s going to keep on delivering (maybe through our kids or maybe somewhere else in life) until we figure it out. Why not stop to look at whatever it is we are upset about and allow the moment to teach us, even as we teach our children?

When there’s misbehavior in young children, more often than not, it is in the parent’s behavior, not the child’s, where a solution can be found. I’m not saying the parent of a child misbehaving is bad or wrong or even to blame. Take this instance with my little guy and the markers. It is what it is. I wasn’t in the room, the markers were out and the coast was clear. My two year old grabbed his favorite color and the largest canvas he could find. If you think about it, how fun would that have been? Why would a two year old whose j0b it is to explore the world around him, touching, pushing, pulling, tasting, climbing and jumping his way around the planet NOT do this? That might be a more logical question.

If I was a parent that believed in spanking, I might think that “sparing the rod” in this circumstance would be deny my son a learning opportunity. I might fear that I’m spoiling my child. Other people, well meaning family members for instance, might even tell me I am. Let’s look at this line of reasoning a little closer.

Is spanking an effective form of discipline? Could it have taught my son that markers belong on paper, not couches? I don’t think so, and here is why. Our true parenting power lies not in a quick swat on a child’s backside, but in taking a long, hard look at ourselves, the environment our child is in and other factors that contribute to their behavior. That’s a big statement, I know, but before though-st protest, let me make the case for it.

People seem to get where their true power lies in changing, correcting AND creating desirable behaviors when it comes to their pets. Just watch any of the pet shows where the pet expert is called in to help a pet owner whose dog is acting out. Who gets the training? The OWNER. They are taught to be consistent, to show love, to set boundaries, not to hit, not to yell, to reward positive behavior, to ignore, replace or otherwise correct negative behavior.

We’ve just described the basis for conscious parenting, but we were talking about our dogs.

Image from

Research on learning and brain development shows us that what’s good for Rover is also good for Bobby and Susie. Our power lies in love and connection, not force and fear. How can I say this? Studies show human beings learn far more from positive reinforcement than negative. In the face of fear, thinking moves out of the cerebral-cortex and into the brain-stem. The fight or flight mechanism takes over and no learning occurs. This is what happens within the brain of a child getting spanked. Fight or flight.

Spanking doesn’t teach. It might deter, but if we want to teach a child right from wrong, rather than spanking why not deliver the lesson in a way that the child can receive it? Why not teach to the thinking part of their brain?

If we as a society can understand how effective positive reinforcement is with our pets, surely we can make the leap to accepting positive reinforcement as superior to negative techniques, such as spanking, in parenting.

Back to my teaching moment. It didn’t take much for the light bulb to go on in my son’s head. I imagine it went something like this… “Mom took the marker away. She said “all done”, over and over. She moved me away form the couch and then wiped away all my cool circles. She sat me at the table and got out the markers again. She showed me where my marker belong. On paper. She gave me a marker and let me draw on the paper. I get it!”

Even as green swirls were taking over my once tan leather couch, the idea of parenting as a spiritual path jumped into my head. What am I needing to learn about today? Ah yes. It’s my old friends patience and acceptance. Come on in guys. Have a seat. Pick up a rag and help me scrub these circles off the couch.

In times of domestic chaos when I am near my edge it helps me to remember that I am indeed on a spiritual path. The spiritual path of motherhood. This realization alone helps me. It helps me pause, take a deep breath and wonder with each new day of skinned knees and blowout diapers, what is here for me?

Connection rather than spanking. Connection, first to ourselves and then to our children, a true gift for all as we grow along the spiritual path that is parenthood.

Spanking doesn’t work for the child, for the parents, or for society. Spanking… creates a distance between parent and child, and it contributes to a violent society.

– Doctor Sears

Related Articles:

How to: Attachment Parenting and Self Love

How to: Parenting with Boundaries… Peacefully

Zen Mommy Minute: Beautiful Boundaries

How to Parent Soul to Soul


Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommy-ing to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003 and twins born in February of 2010, Suzanne co-owns a holistic health center with her husband Shawn in St. Louis, Missouri  where she practices as Certified Educator of  Infant Massage and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers parent coaching and is the co-creator of the Yoga Parenting approach to positive parenting.


  1. Stephanie says:

    While it is great that positive reinforcement works well for your children, not all children are wired the same. When you have a child that repeatedly does the same unacceptable thing and does not respond to other forms of punishment, sometimes spanking is the answer. Trust me, I tried with both children. And spanking does not occur in the heat of the moment, during anger. Spanking happens after the situation is diffused. It doesn’t happen often; typically the threat of such punishment is a large enough deterrent to keep the unwanted behavior from occurring again any time soon, especially now that my children are older.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Hi Stephanie, Thank you for replying. I was hoping this would open up a dialog. (The thing about posting a belief is that it immediately serves to make us feel separate if we do not agree. There will be those that read this and believe one way and those that believe another. To my core I believe we are all connected and that this separation is not real.)

    I wrote about other ways than spanking to discipline because I believe in the power of love. I know kids can be wired differently, but I am still not convinced some need to be hit to learn. That said, it is not my wish to judge you and I really do not. I might not agree with you but I do not judge you. I would like to hear more about how you would describe the nature of your child(ren) such that other discipline attempts have not worked. Could share an example and the things you tried? Curious too at what age you feel it’s okay to spank. You mention spanking does not occur in the heat of the moment, during anger. It may not always, or it may not in your home, but surely you can see that in the world, sometimes (I would even say often) it does.

    As others read and post, I hope we can keep the conversation respectful and open. We are here to share. not judge or be cruel to one another. Thank you for speaking up Stephanie and getting the conversation started. I hope you reply again.

  2. I would tend to agree with Stephanie on this issue. For our family, spanking is a disciplinary tool used only when extreme circumstances warrant it. To be quite honest, I am very rarely that parent who spanks because if I were to do it, I would probably do it in anger. Since I am home with all three children all day every day I have much more opportunity to grow frustrated and angry. When a particular attitude or behavior has gotten out of control, spanking is the last resport option and the task is given to my husband. The child who loses control must call their dad and explain the situation and they know that daddy will handle it when he gets home. This removes me and my frustration from the equation and allows my husband to come home and calmly handle the situation a few hours later. It’s always done with love and our children have never walked away embarassed or hurt.

    There is a right way to spank a child and when done correctly it can actually bring parent and child more together, not drive them apart. We never spank with our hand or in front of anyone else. There is no yelling involved and there is a lot of hugging and restoration afterward. And we spank rarely. There is one child in our family who receives more spankings than the others simply because it’s the only thing effective for that child. The other two very rarely receive spankings. They are not hard wired that way and we are able to implement other disciplines that acheive the desired result. We also only use spanking when our children are very young. As they get older and we’re able tor eason with them a bit more and consequences can be laid out more strategically, we use those. After about the age of 8, I believe spankings to be highly ineffective.

    Sorry to go on and on. Thanks for giving us a chance to openly dialogue about this issue. I know it’s a tricky one. 🙂

  3. I can relate to this article. As a child, my siblings & I were spanked and as a result, I was afraid of my parents. I can’t remember the reasons for the spankings but I remember the spankings. This is why I choose not to spank. I don’t think it teaches anything. When it comes to my 14 month old, I try to see the world as he sees it first. He does things that try my patience (like climbing into the sink where I’m sure he’s going to fall & injure himself) but I try remember that is his current stage of development. God willing I can keep this same line of thinking through life & into the dreaded teenage years!

  4. This is a very interesting thread. I am curious about the importance of “not spanking with the hands” and the importance of spanking calmly. It is obvious that the spanking arguments have been well thought out and that spanking is an educated choice. (Not so in many households I am afraid). My issue is that I find it hypocritical to hit my child and then tell him not to. If he were to calmly walk up to another child and hit them with something because he did not like their behavior I would make it clear that was wrong. How do spankers deal with this issue?

  5. That’s a great point, Amy. I guess I’ve never seen this as a real issue because, when spanking is done right, it’s not even comparable to a child hitting someone. Because I’m not hitting my child (thus not using the hand to spank). When a child hits, it’s always done in frustration or anger. It’s a knee jerk reaction to them feeling wronged. He took my toy. *hit* She called me a name. *hit*

    Now, if I were to spank this way, then yes, the message would be confusing. You talked back to me. *hit* You didn’t obey. *hit* But that’s not effective and it won’t teach your children anything. “Drive by” spankings absolutely WILL send a confusing message. This is why I oftentimes remove myself from a frustrating situation. I may put the offending child in their room or I may go to my own room to think through a situation calmly. Sometimes I realize that the issue is my own, not the childs. Sometimes I decide a punishment besides spanking is appropriate. Sometimes I decide it’s time to bring Daddy into the situation and let him deal with it, usually with a spanking. I calm down. My child calms down. My husband comes home calm and punishment is dealt with.

    So it’s not at all like a hitting child. And that’s how we are able to remain calm.

    I realize this makes it sound like I never lose my patience and that’s not the case at all. I lose my patience all the time and I hate it. But I have slowly learned over the years how to control frustration and I’ve seen the effectiveness of disciplining a child the right way the FIRST time. More than anything, though, I’ve learned that above every discipline the most effective way to reach my child’s heart is to pray for it. This has been the most valuable parenting tool I’ve ever embraced. 🙂

  6. GREAT post, Suzanne! I needed this more than ever today. Yesterday was a long day with my VERY active 20 month old and it always helps to be reminded that this is the “discovery” age. I was crying to my friend last night saying “I won’t spank, but what else can I do if he still just won’t listen?” You are absolutely right. It’s not him, it’s ME that isn’t listening. Thank you for the perspective. I needed the reminder!

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Thank you Erin. I am right there with you. Hang in there! It really does help to be reminded we are not alone!!! May today find you with ooooddles of renewed patience, creative distraction ideas… And a huge pat on the back to yourself for the loving mama you are. ^_^

    And Kelli, thank you for the followup. I love your words about growing in your own self control, looking within to manage frustrations (truly inevitable if one is both human and a parent. Lol) And about prayer. True-dat!!! I’m not sure if you are spanking in the way most people think of spanking, but it has been great to share back and forth with you on this. (I posted my big long reply before seeing your followup so wanted to be sure to reply again to all you touched on there.)

  7. Thank you for the thoughtful replies Kelly, Jen and Amy. It’s a great thing we can all open up about this and share from our hearts. Kelli, I too see the conscious consideration you have put into spanking as a form of discipline. I also wondered about spanking and what it models. The whole “do what I say, not what I do”. Look at the picture of the child spanking her doll. That doesn’t sit well with me, but that is what this child would naturally take away from being hit by her parent. I nurse my twins and I’ve seen my two year old daughter bring her doll up to her chest when playing with them. These early years are so formative. We have to consider what we are modeling. I think spanking must be confusing to a child.

    Spanking may seem effective in that it “deters”, but define effective. 90% of the brain is formed before age four. These are formative years. How does a child of 2 or 3 or 4 integrate the message that they are worthy of being hit by the one person in the world they love most? Do they not take on that they are bad, worthy of being hit? When a child is out of control, this seems like a perfect teaching moment for modeling control. (Not always easy, granted. That was the point of this post.)

    My final thought is “what we resist, persists…” There is a tribe in Africa that when one of their members misbehaves, they put this person in the center of a circle and go around, each sharing a story of who this person is for them. Their gifts. Their goodness. Times when this person did something nice for them. They have very little conflict among them as you can imagine… Love. I KNOW it’s not always easy. I just think if you can put conscious energy into lovingly teaching your child with spanking… (which truly is not the case for many who spank out of anger – it was that horrible youtube video you might have seen of a judge spanking his daughter in the name of discipline that had me write about this…) you can do it much more effectively and with less long-term negative effects on their self-worth, self-love, without.

  8. An interesting discussion! Discipline is one of the most common issues Parents as Teachers parent educators encounter. While discipline is always a parent’s own decision, here’s what the experts think you should know. Negative discipline (spanking, hand slapping, etc.)threatens a child’s self-esteem and emotional health. Spanking focuses attention on being hurt and being afraid of you. Eventually s/he may decide that avoiding punishment, not changing behavior, is the goal. If you’re trying to teach children that it is not OK to hit others, spanking can confuse them. This is a method of dealing with frustration parents do not want to model.

  9. This is a great topic, Suzanne. Thanks for the dialogue. One thing I’d like to ask is that the video of the judge beating his child not be used in a dialogue about spanking. That man was not spanking his child, he was beating her and there is a VERY big difference between the two. It pains me to think that anyone would compare the loving way that my husband and I have chosen to dicipline our children (in VERY rare circumstances, I’d like to reiterate) with the horror of what that man did. There can be no comparison.

    In a lot of ways I agree with the things you said. A knee jerk swat on the behind of a two year old is not effective in teaching him not to color on the couch. That’s how I would define “drive by” spanking. A swat with the hand as a child walks by. It doesn’t teach or model positive behavior.

    Spanking done right and well and, yes, lovingly, however, provides excellent boundaries for both parent and child. I can guarantee that my children are not suffering from low self-esteem or poor emotional health. They are very well grounded and loved and secure within the bounds that we have set for them as children. And, as I stated earlier, they don’t all get spanked. In fact, my youngest has never been spanked simply because it would not be effective for HIM. He is very tender and we have learned effective disciplines for him that don’t involve spanking. I know exactly how my children are wired and what works best for each of them in discipline and I am constantly working and growing and my husband and I are evaluating and learning as we grow as parents.

    Spanking is one method we use and we use it sparingly and with as much patience and love as we can. And our children are healthy and happy and secure. They aren’t afraid of us, because we aren’t unpredictable with our discipline. the kids know exactly what kind of behavior will garner what kind of consequence. This helps them feel secure and safe inside the boundaries of our home.

    Spanking is not beating and there needs to be a very dark line drawn between the two.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Point taken Kelli. Big difference between you and judge and truly, I was not drawing a parallel there at all or comparing you to him. The way you use the word spanking and the reality of how people all around us are using it is an important distinction. I recently saw a mom verbally and physically (hand to child’s back) spank a child while shopping. If I had to guess, I’d say it came from a place of frustration, not love. I could be wrong. Absolutely. And I didn’t send hate towards this woman when it happened either. I am not here to judge her. I haven’t walked a mile in her shoes. I did pause to send some love to the child though… 🙂 hope he got it.

    What I am saying though is parenting can be hard, and if we hold spanking (in the form of hitting or slapping a child- even not hard hitting and slapping… But hand to child) as an effective form of discipline, it is more likely going to be a tool a parent might reach for when they find themselves pushed to the edges of their own self control. Spanking can be abusive. Kelli, you are far from the average person out there spanking. You say spanking is not beating, but my point is that more often than I’d like to even think about, an adult hand is raised to a child, not from a place of love, but frustration, in the name of discipline. It can be abusive. And it can even turn into a beating. Does that make sense?

    You have a husband and turn over the reigns… But what if you didn’t or couldn’t? Again, thank you for sharing so open and respectfully on this Kelli AND to all that have commented.

  10. This is a great discussion to have, Suzanne (I really love your posts). I have to say I feel very strongly about this issue, and that there is no gray area. Spanking – and let’s call it what it is – hitting – your child is never ok. It doesn’t matter what the child did “wrong” or what lesson you’re trying to teach by hitting your children, what they’ll remember above all else is that they were hit. By their parent. And the “lesson” they just learned is that solving conflicts with violence has just been modeled to them as acceptable behavior by the person they rely on and trust most in the world. Think about that.

    As parents, we have many ways to discipline our children that model positive problem-solving skills and how to handle conflict without resorting to violence (and spanking IS violence). Lest you think I have the “perfect” child who does no wrong, think again. I’ve been as frustrated as any parent can be with bad behavior but even in those moments, I have a choice. And I choose not to hit, no matter what. In the 9 years I’ve been a parent there has never been one instance where I have regretted this decision.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Thank you Julia. I appreciate how clearly you are able to state this!

  11. Michelle Halm says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I have to say that spanking doesn’t make any sense to me for the very simple fact that it says, “Might makes right.” Just because someone is bigger & CAN use force doesn’t mean he or she should. When we hit our children our actions are teaching them that “Might Makes Right.” There are other forms of discipline that are holistic & teach our children beyond the present “issue” to bigger life issues. When we “spank” we say that this present issue and future issues are only about “might making right.” I know I keep going back to that, but to me it boils down to that.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Hi Michelle. We ARE teaching so much in how we parent. Thank you for the reminder to look to the big picture nhow we parent, not just the moment at hand. What am I teaching in this moment? A great things to consider. And sometimes we just flat out get it wrong. Asking for forgiveness is probably one of the most powerful things we can model as parents, don’t you think? Children learn so much from just watching us. When we think they aren’t paying attention (or can’t HEAR us) that’s when they are ALL EARS (and eyes!!!) …

  12. What a great conversation. I can only speak for myself in that I have not figured out a way to justify spanking.

    And I’m speaking from the perspective of a mom who HAS spanked my kids before… part of the reason I can say definitively that it just doesn’t work!

    I truly believe that the most effective form of teaching is modeling. It’s no accident that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Almost all my kids behavior, good and bad, are reflective of what they see me or their dad doing regularly.

    How can I tell my kids “hitting is wrong” or “keep your hands to yourself…” when I can hear their little voices in my head saying, “Why? You hit me?!”

    What good can they learn from it? Except that I can’t control myself and/or haven’t figured out a more constructive way to relate to them.

  13. Suzanne, what a terrific post. I am so glad you left a note on my blog and led me here. I recently wrote a post about spanking and other methods of discipline and I wanted to share a powerful response that one of my readers left. I thought it was pertinent based on some of the comments your readers had here:

    “Some pro-spanking books/articles that I have read have said that when spanking is used as a discipline tool, never, ever spank in anger. So I took that to heart. Well, I found that when I took anger out of the dynamic, the desire to spank disappeared and more importantly, the logic of spanking just wasn’t there. It just was not justifiable anymore. What I had hoped to achieve by spanking, I achieved by addressing my child with the same amount of respect and acknowledgment as I would if my friend were in distress.”

    Thank you for your post, for sharing so much of what you are learning about parenting & taking the time to comment on my blog. I look forward to connecting further!
    – Gina

  14. This has been a lovely and respectful discussion and I am glad I could be a small part of it. While I won’t go into any more detail about why or how my husband and I came to the decision to include spanking as a method of discipline with our children (mainly because I’ve already explained it), I will say that I appreciate everyone sharing their opinions and I respect your decisions for not spanking. I hope that you all, and others who don’t support spanking, can respect our decision as well. Just because we spank our children does not mean we aren’t speaking to them or training them with respect. We have thought through very, very clearly why and how and when we will spank and our children know exactly what offense is spankable (and it’s only in the most extreme cases of disobedience, disrespect of defiance). In doing this, our children have blossomed into very secure little beings because they know exactly what the boundary lines are. And I am able to remain much mroe calm in my discipline, because I also know the boundary lines. And because I’ve turned the reigns over to my husband when it comes to spanking. I rarely, if ever spank, unless it’s a situation that needs to be dealt with immediately. Usually we just wait for Daddy to come home and he can evaluate the issue and determine the punishment. This has brought a lot of freedom into our hosuehold for both me and the kids.

    In fact, in recent years I’ve come to see the beauty in the way that we are training our children (when we do it right, of course. I still mess up all the freaking time…). We have amazing kids who know what it means to respect one another and respect other adults. We use a myriad of different disciplinary techniques and we are constantly evaluating and learning what works and what doesn’t and each child is different so it can be exhausting. 🙂

    Just because a family chooses to spank doesn’t mean they aren’t modeling respect to their children. And no – spanking does not always equate to hitting. Not if it’s done right. Our children are not confused by what we do. We aren’t unpredicatable in our reactions to them and because of that I believe we’ve set up a very secure environment for our children to grow up in.

    Thanks for letting me take part in this discussion, everyone.

  15. Kelli, I think you are one of the most positive and conscious parents I know so I’m so glad that you added your thoughts on this conversation. It’s what inspired me to be very clear in my own response that I could only speak for myself. 😀

  16. Thank you for that lovely compliment. 🙂

  17. I’m a bit late weighing in here. I grew up in a culture where hitting your kids was “discipline.” The thought was “the more it hurt, the more effective it will be.” As I grew, I was kicked and slapped as well as called some nasty names.

    That said, there is a BIG difference between spanking and beating. My parents hit out of anger. (They both had hair-trigger tempers. I never knew what would set them off.) I grew up fearing my parents.

    When it comes to disciplining my son, at first I felt lost because I didn’t have the tools to effectively discipline and was scared I’d repeat my parents’ behavior. But fortunately, my husband (and talking with other moms) has helped generate ideas. Timeouts worked fairly well as did taking away privileges. But he’s a very sensitive kid who is eager to please. I know not all kids are like that. So I think the spanking thing should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    I’ve realized over the last year that our son is more prone to act out when he doesn’t feel connected to my husband or me. We try to head this off by making “Me and mom” or “Me and dad” dates. This came about because looking back, that’s why I acted out as a kid too. I was constantly competing with my siblings. My mom and sister were much alike so they spent lots of time together. My dad and brother were much alike so they spent time together. I was the black sheep. I grew up thinking my family would be much happier without me. (Thankfully I have a much happier, healthier relationship with my parents now. But still, difficult to work through some of those deeply-rooted issues.)

    But overall, our son’s been spanked maybe three times ever. And like Kelli, there was lots of hugging after to let him know we loved him and he is a good child but the behavior wasn’t going to be condoned.

  18. Hello Zen Mama and Friends!

    What an awesome post! I like it so much I just reposted it on our site and did a boost to put it out to people.

    I would like to weigh in on the topic. As a linguist it is interesting to look at the root of the word discipline. VLADIMIR LENIN announced to the world that the way to destroy a culture was to change the meaning of it’s words. Discipline comes from the root disciple – which means ‘properly taught,’ not properly hit or beaten. However you talk about it, whatever words about re used, a child that has been hit, has been hit. Someone with more power over their lives than they have has used physical force. The is a pretty clear piece of teaching. ‘If I have the power it is OK to hit.’ A child has been ‘property taught’ how to use violence.

    We overheard a 2 1/2-3 year old recently, after crying for grapes in the checkout line, cry out to his mother, “Mommy, I love you, please don’t hit me!” WHAT do you suppose he is likely to do when the stress is up and the chips are down 30 years from now in his marriage?

    I offer the reason we cannot ‘properly teach’ our children is that WE have not been taught and when stress is up, it is hard to think outside the lines drawn in our minds by a Power Person (PP – the one who had more power over us than we did and was NOT functioning out of Love). If our PP did not properly teach us, then it is hard to pass what we did not get from either them or our genetics. All the education in the world might teach us how to rationalize our behavior but it will NEVER undo our learned PP dynamics. It does not matter if I am a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian chief.

    Forgiveness, in the original Aramaic, does not mean, I let you off the hook for what is happening inside of me. It is how to remove, from inside MY OWN MIND, the PP dynamics I learned as child so that I can have the clarity of mind to clear the neural pathways of abuse done to me, prompted perhaps by a thousand generations of abuse justified. I will then be open to intuit proper guidance and know EXACTLY how to discipline even the most stubborn, unruly child.

    You are welcome to download, free, all kinds of info on how to engage in 1st Century Aramaic Forgiveness from our website. One tool taught by inner city kindergarten schoolteacher, Julie Haverstick, who wrote a book, Healing Children, Loving Children, based on our work is the Love Chair. ‘Out of sorts today, Johnny? Perhaps you need to sit in the Love Chair for a while.’ While in that chair (the child’s safety zone), where everyone consciously beams Love to him, Johnny tends to think about his behavior, develop the ability to listen to Loving input and will eventually ASK to sit in the Love Chair when
    in need of support.

    In Smiles and Blessings, Michael and Jeanie Ryce

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Michael and Jeanie,
    As you well know, your interpretation of forgiveness is my beacon light when it comes to all things love and life and certainly motherhood. It is a bright white light, calling me each and every time I feel myself shifting out of the mindset of love. What a gift it has been for me to take on the empowering beliefs you state so well here in your comment. Coming into these beliefs in my young 20’s, well before having children, they have been an endless source of growth and healing for me in motherhood/parenthood. These beliefs and what I have come to call tools for finding/restoring “my center” (love) have inspired me to invite other mothers/fathers into doing the same. Teaching and guiding our kids from this place of LOVE is at the root of all that is shared in this place. Letting go of what we “know” and what we “fear” to invite in infinite sources of love and light to heal and guide. Blessings to you. THANK YOU for your insights shared here and your joint commitment to spreading the tools of forgiveness for all to benefit. xoxo With deep respect, Suzanne

    michael ryce Reply:

    Delighted to be on your team and the team of every Mom and Dad you coach so powerfully! I will keep you posted on how the posting on our FB site progresses. Perhaps the next stop in St Louis we could set up a free WHY Workshop. In Smiles and Blessings, michael and Jeanie